Chief of Staff

I was talking to someone who works at American Family, a large insurance company. They employ a ton of people in the Madison area.

When business and life doesn’t go as expected on days, I sometimes get jealous of people working at large companies. They appear to have more security. They have a more narrowly defined focus at their job. It’s easier to leave their work at home.

The politics would drive me crazy. I admire people who can make that all work.

One thing I do know is that managers and VPs at large companies are stressed. I get stressed too, but working at a large company seems more stressful. Many people want to do good work. They also have to monitor the environment for politics, people taking credit foe their work, being passed over for promotion. What a mess.

How can VPs and managers relax more at large companies? Here’s some suggestions from an outsider.

1. You have a ton of meetings. Notice how you feel during these meetings. Are you relaxed all over? Feel like you’re at the spa? You should. That’s your natural state.

If you’re not, like most of us, get centered. Take some deep breaths and watch your mind and the meeting from a centered position. You can even talk and engage while being centered.

Notice when you’re feeling negative about something, like that guy who loves to talk but does nothing. Take a deep breath.

You center and meditate all day long.

2. If you’re senior enough, bring on a chief of staff. I think it’s crazy that VPs at large companies often share an admin person. And then under them they might have 100 people. That makes no sense. The VP is the one moving the parts, creating the vision for everyone. That person needs time to think, write and reflect.

Take one of those 100 people, a talented driven person, and make them your chief of staff. They should be your right hand person. They can attend meetings on your behalf, make decisions on your behalf (yes, you don’t need to decide everything) and help execute a plan.

That will free up the VPs time to work on higher value higher priority stuff. They will also not burn out. They will also not spend their entire days answering email with any free moment.

For the company, more chief of staffs will let your senior executives focus on high value work. It will also allow you to evaluate your senior executives faster because they will have more time to work on stuff that will impact the organization. They will chase fewer fires. Their impact should be felt faster. If not, something is wrong.

That’s my advice from an outsider. Have fun.

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